I’m going to stray a bit from my usual style of trying to relate everything back to evolutionary drives. I was reading some articles from Emo & Lo, and was struck by Abby Spector’s article about passionate cuddling. She says:
It has been exactly a year since I last had sex. I didn’t intend on taking a vow of celibacy. Like belly button lint and shocking celebrity deaths (RIP Jacko et al), it just happened. My labido (sic!) turned off. Kaput. I don’t miss the bruised hipbones, condom debates, or dirty sheets. Hell, I don’t even miss the whole penis and vagina part. All I want is a sweaty body pressed against mine. Unfortunately, it is hard, daresay impossible, to get passionate cuddling sans sexual intercourse. Believe me. I’ve tried.
This is not an uncommon thing to hear, unfortunately. She goes on to explain all the reasons why she is ok with being celibate, but wants intimacy. Her story is a little out of the ordinary since she doesn’t just want tender, reassuring cuddling. What she wants is, frankly, sex without intercourse.
We learn a great deal about why she might be “over” sex. She’s apparently not had very much in the way of healthy, positive sexual experiences that left her wanting more:
I have been with seven people. Out of all seven, there is only one I don’t regret. The others weren’t bad. Actually, most of them were quite good. My mind just wasn’t there to enjoy it. I now realize that there are other, less self-depreciating ways to ease my insecurities. Flirting, French fries, and good friends fill my voids.
When I look back over my life, I can’t find any stretch of six out of seven sexual partners I regretted. One or two, sure. We all have sex for bad reasons with the wrong person at least once, right? But there’s something much deeper going on here. Abby’s felt bad about 86% of the sex partners she’s ever had! She’s already given us a serious clue as to why that might be. Look at the language she uses: self-depreciating; filling voids; easing insecurities.
Later she gives us more clues:
Cuddling is usually expected to lead to sleepovers (or at least that’s what they do in the movies). I have never been a big fan of sleepovers. Something about them seems threatening.
She goes on to say that she’s only actually slept with one out of her seven sex partners. She fears the vulnerability of going to sleep with someone. She uses more “danger words.”
More importantly, though, sleeping requires an extreme release. You have to succumb to fatigue. Masks come off, swords are put down, and you enter another state of mind.
I feel badly for Abby. Her words paint a clear picture of sex as a battle… an obstacle… a threat. I have no idea what has brought her to this place, and don’t care to speculate, but I do hope she finds a way to bridge the gap between whatever she fears from intimacy, and the closeness she still craves.
At this point, I confess, I am giving in to a temptation I hoped to resist. I’m going to go ahead and mention that Abby is majoring in Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies. I’m not sure if it’s a relevant point or not, and I am going to resist the temptation to write her off as an angry ultra-feminist. I don’t know that for sure, but damn, it’s hard not to notice the subtext when she talks about sex. Look at the words she uses: “Penis and vagina.” How very clinical. “Bruised hipbones.” “Dirty sheets.” “Condom debates.” But when she’s talking about non-sexual passionate cuddling, she says she misses the “sweaty sheets.” Her words betray her true feelings. Dirty sheets vs. sweaty sheets. Doesn’t this strike you? The sheets are exactly the same from both activities (unless her men are fond of ejaculating on sheets), but she associates them with two very, very different feelings.
Finally, she ends her confession like this: